DDN Playtest Session 9: Henkala’s Elemental Quest

A reminder of who we are and what we are doing:

During September and October 2013 our group tried DDN playtest rules, beginning with the September packet and moving to the October packet.

We have picked up the game again, because it’s fun; because we need to fill in some weeks; in order to push our L3 characters to L4. All valid reasons.

The characters in alphabetic order:

½-Jack the Halfling rogue is a sly dagger-wielding rascal whose skills involve stealth and deception. He is armored with studded leather and carrying four daggers. He usually operates the lantern.

Banjo Carrick the Elf mage is a proud but friendly beanpole of a fellow, who prefers the violence of attack spells to his persuasive skills. He carries a lot of equipment including a spell focus orb, a banjo, a longbow, a short bow, and a sword.

Brother Abram Gaunt, cleric of Tempus is a strongly built, bilious-natured fellow who believes firmly in his god’s tenets of faith through violence. He is heavily armored, carrying sword and mace.

Martel “Hammer of Justice” Guerra, paladin of Tyr, is short but sturdy, whose brow is heavy but deep, signifying the thinker as well as the battler. He too carries plenty of war gear, including javelins, a net, caltrops, a hand axe, a hammer, a dagger, and a sword and shield.

What occupies us

Having been marooned in the Deep Gnome enclave of the Underdark, the plight of the Deep Gnomes occupies us. We found them under siege from Kobold and Orc, and under more obscure threat from Pech and Elemental. So far, we have cleared back the Kobolds and sealed their tunnels off for the time being; we have established peaceful relations with the Pech; and we have hunted all Orcs in the vicinity into extinction. The remaining issue revolves around a supernatural imbalance.

It seems that the Deep Gnomes have the power to bind Earth Elementals to their will, thanks to a power known as the Boon of Entomok. However, Ogramok’s Bane, a spirit of evil, seems to have been created as a sort of arcane antidote or counter-balance to Entomok’s Boon. We’ve learnt this from the Pech named Gallus on our first mission there.


And now to the session.

Rally the Pech!

During our brief visit to the Pech, we secured their help in warding off the elementals, on condition that we persuade the Deep Gnomes to leave them alone. The Deep Gnomes on the other hand wanted to recover and bring back into use the ancient forges the Pech had covered up with living stone. All this had been reasonably well agreed.

Our first chore, now that we have decided to tackle the Elemental problem, is to confirm the deal with Kargian. In order to ensure the slippery burrow lord is held to his word, we bring over Pingtu, the priest. [Carrick makes a good persuade roll for bringing Pingtu and Pingtu adds his roll to convince Kargian.] So now it’s all open and above-board: Deep Gnomes get access to forges, Pech help against the Elementals, then Pech keep their right to occupy.

It’s now time for a return visit to rally the Pech. We go with our original success, keeping Guerra and Gaunt in the rear and a de-equipped ½-Jack and Carrick in front. Carrick is the spokesman for this deal. Gallus reappears and agrees with us on the preparations and location.

But when we return, meaning to march straight through the Deep Gnome caverns to the Elemental hot-spot, we are turned back at the barrier: the guards will not suffer any Pech to enter!

The long way round

Although ½-Jack expostulates with Kargian, the sly burrow warden stands by the letter of our agreement: nothing was said about how the Pech are to actually help. It’s our problem how they get to the Elemental cavern. [½-Jack makes some miserable Deceive and Persuade checks] ½-Jack even tries bringing in Pingtu but the priest is not interested and the rogue has no choice but to report failure.

Guerra is angry, but walks off to one side to cool down. Carrick explains matters to Gallus, and once Carrick and ½-Jack are re-equipped, we set out to make our way around the Gnome Caverns. Guerra points out to Gallus how the Pech could seal the northern exits off the Gnome Caverns so as to use access to the throne chamber and such like as a bargaining chip in the future.

The Orc caverns are still empty. We run into our first difficulty as we move south and west of them.

Surprise round: ½-Jack is stung by fire-beetles for 6 damage. Guerra made his Perception check and took no damage.


  • ½-Jack
  • Guerra
  • Carrick
  • Bugs
  • Gaunt

Round 1: ½-Jack disengages, moves behind Guerra, and hides. Guerra casts his net which flops onto the ground in a bundle. Carrick steps left of Guerra, casts Thunderwave, but kills only one bug [rolls really low damage and two bugs make their saves anyway]. The bugs swarm: two at Carrick and three at Guerra. We name them (their right to left) John Paul George Ringo and Pete. John and Paul bite Carrick who takes 3 damage, George misses Guerra [Protection] but Ringo and Pete both hit him, 3 damage. Gaunt enters combat from his rear position and kills Paul.

Round 2: ½-Jack pops out, stabs Pete, and disengages. Guerra gets rid of George. Carrick, who is facing John, kills him with Ray of Frost. Gaunt moves across to attack Ringo but misses as does the bug.

Round 3: ½-Jack slays Ringo. Gallus appears out of nice safe rock face and assures us he and his lads were ready to help. Duly noted, Guerra replies grimly.

We take a short rest, and Carrick uses Arcane Recovery to retrieve his spell while all stung use a HD to recover or nearly recover.

To the jump-off point

The Pech may be cautious in battle but they are fair scouts. They locate a good-size cavern north of the Elemental cavern which will make a good jumping-off point for us. As we advance south into it, stirges swoop! [Carrick and Gaunt are up front at this stage and both make good Perception checks.]


  • ½-Jack
  • Guerra
  • Gaunt
  • Stirges
  • Carrick
  • Gallus

Round 1: ½-Jack casts a dagger but just misses [has disadvantage as he did not announce delay until in range]. Guerra delays, then casts his net which as usual misses completely. Gaunt also holds his Sacred Flame until the stirges close, and burns one to crisp. A stirge slams into Carrick, sucking 2 points damage. Carrick tries to Ray of Frost himself and fails. Gallus appears out of nearby rock and kills the stirge.

Round 2: ½-Jack hides then delays his next throw. Guerra readies his sword and Gaunt his Sacred Flame. As the stirges swoop, ½-Jack’s dagger kills one but the other is missed and heads for Guerra who slices it apart.

A new quest

We plan how we will approach the elementals. Guerra, who likes to leave spell slots open, readies Bless and Cure Wounds. Gaunt sorts out his own spell slots, and we are done.

We approach, the Pech leading. Due to the rumored ability of Elementals to attack from underneath, we are well spread out. An elemental comes rush at us, arms upraised! But the Pech form a line of defense and the Elemental slows, then stops.

As we push deeper into the cavern we crowd together so the Pech can surround us. Elementals, all hostile, are ready to rip us asunder if we break formation! At length, a scattering of gravel whips into a column and then into a roaring bestial visage. This is Ogramok’s Bane. We kneel as befits supplicants.

Once again Carrick does most of the talking [a really good Persuasion roll] and convinces Mr. O. Bane we are not mere treasure seekers. Then bargaining begins. [Another good check.] It seems Mr. Bane wants an end to the usage of Elementals. How can this be done, we ask. “Well, topple the Boon, which is located some hours travel out of the Labyrinth that leads to the Gnome Caverns,” and that will end it: and it will also allow the Bane to leave as well. “I will give you the strength!” Mr. Bane adds.

Our guide Crack-Quartz

With some rudimentary guidance from the Pech and the Bane we return east to the Gnome Caverns and request the use of our favorite guide, Milgin Crack-Quartz. We convince him that our job is going well but we need this little side-quest… and he agrees to guide us out.

About two hours later we arrive outside the Labyrinth and at the Underdark cavern where lies the Boon of Entomok. Three pillars covered with bright runes form the centerpiece. The earth pulses with energy. Gaunt braces his thews and the power of Ogramok’s Bane floods him [+5 to Str].

With a mighty heave he topples the first pillar. With a supreme shove he sunders the next. Then with exhausted panting he hammers at the third until it too breaks. Ogramok’s Bane leaves the earth along with Entomok’s Boon, like two cursed lovers in a play.

Quests’ end

We discuss simply leaving – so disgusted are we with Deep Gnome dealings by this point – but Carrick’s longbow is worth 50gp and it’s back at the Gnome Caverns; and besides we can’t mark “quest completed” until Henkala is told of our success, so we walk back to the Labyrinth, are guided back through it by Crack-Quartz, and report to Henkala. While Carrick and ½-Jack put the best spin on our success to her, Guerra retrieves the longbow and assures Kargian that if we ever hear of the Deep Gnomes reneging on their deal we’ll be back, and it won’t be Orcs we’re hunting.

None of us mentions the banishment of Entomok’s Boon. We feel we owe the Deep Gnomes nothing: Kargian has dealt shabbily with us: let them find out in their own good time.

Henkala has come through for the reward: she gives us an amethyst, three healing potions, and a hand-axe that is magical [+1]. With the proceeds from weapons and non-standard gems and the fancy Drow sword, we ought to be able to parlay all this into reasonable gear.

That’s all we are willing to do. We load up as many of the weapons we looted onto a doubled pair of stretchers turned into a sled, and route-march out.

Guerra espouses the hope that since we all get along pretty well we can continue to adventure together, somewhere other than the Underdark. All that’s needed, he adds, is a mite less of deception and cheek. Three pairs of eyes turn towards ½-Jack.

We end with 300 more xp bringing us to 1260 total. L4 is 2250 so we have a ways to go.


About andrewmclaren26

Weekly Roleplayer, Wargamer when I can
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One Response to DDN Playtest Session 9: Henkala’s Elemental Quest

  1. Shaun says:

    Deception? Cheek?

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